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For many people, the word mysticism conjures up occult, secretive rituals held after midnight in some dark cave. But true mysticism isn’t at all sinister or secretive, says author John Mabry, an Anglican-rite Congregational minister. In fact, mysticism is at the heart of an authentic Christian life. It is nothing more and nothing less than the pursuit-and enjoyment-of unio For many people, the word mysticism conjures up occult, secretive rituals held after midnight in some dark cave. But true mysticism isn’t at all sinister or secretive, says author John Mabry, an Anglican-rite Congregational minister. In fact, mysticism is at the heart of an authentic Christian life. It is nothing more and nothing less than the pursuit-and enjoyment-of union with God, which is the goal of all Christian spirituality. Christian mysticism is the discipline of growing the soul into God—shedding illusory identities, deepening prayer, seeing God in all things, and acting as Christ in the world. Mabry’s great passion is to bring theology to everyday life by explaining complex ideas in everyday language that anyone can understand and find useful. In Growing into God, he “demystifies” mysticism, providing a friendly and accessible entry point to some of the teachings, practices, and experiences of the Christian mystical tradition. Mabry explores the classic mystical journey, which begins with the Awakening of a unitive consciousness that experiences everything as Divine and interconnected. The journey continues with Purgation, in which we empty ourselves of illusion; Illumination, in which we begin to see God in all things and all things in God; and, finally, Union, in which we marry our lives with God’s life. Our hands become God’s hands, our lips become God’s lips, our touch becomes God’s touch, in order to bring help, comfort, and healing to the world. Along the way, and with an entertaining teacher’s clarity, Mabry recounts the stories of many Christian mystics, including inspiring quotations. He also enriches each chapter with questions and answers to simplify points as well as experiential practices to help readers embark upon the mystical journey themselves.


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For many people, the word mysticism conjures up occult, secretive rituals held after midnight in some dark cave. But true mysticism isn’t at all sinister or secretive, says author John Mabry, an Anglican-rite Congregational minister. In fact, mysticism is at the heart of an authentic Christian life. It is nothing more and nothing less than the pursuit-and enjoyment-of unio For many people, the word mysticism conjures up occult, secretive rituals held after midnight in some dark cave. But true mysticism isn’t at all sinister or secretive, says author John Mabry, an Anglican-rite Congregational minister. In fact, mysticism is at the heart of an authentic Christian life. It is nothing more and nothing less than the pursuit-and enjoyment-of union with God, which is the goal of all Christian spirituality. Christian mysticism is the discipline of growing the soul into God—shedding illusory identities, deepening prayer, seeing God in all things, and acting as Christ in the world. Mabry’s great passion is to bring theology to everyday life by explaining complex ideas in everyday language that anyone can understand and find useful. In Growing into God, he “demystifies” mysticism, providing a friendly and accessible entry point to some of the teachings, practices, and experiences of the Christian mystical tradition. Mabry explores the classic mystical journey, which begins with the Awakening of a unitive consciousness that experiences everything as Divine and interconnected. The journey continues with Purgation, in which we empty ourselves of illusion; Illumination, in which we begin to see God in all things and all things in God; and, finally, Union, in which we marry our lives with God’s life. Our hands become God’s hands, our lips become God’s lips, our touch becomes God’s touch, in order to bring help, comfort, and healing to the world. Along the way, and with an entertaining teacher’s clarity, Mabry recounts the stories of many Christian mystics, including inspiring quotations. He also enriches each chapter with questions and answers to simplify points as well as experiential practices to help readers embark upon the mystical journey themselves.

30 review for Growing into God: A Beginner's Guide to Christian Mysticism

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ed Wojniak

    An excellent, readable and friendly introduction to mysticism. Mabry makes the practice understandable and accessible. It is what I have needed, i.e., an encouragement into a transition from knowledge about God to a greater relating to Him, especially an apophatic kind (an experience often unmediated by the structures of traditional organized religion). He takes some liberties that conservative Christians may not be completely comfortable with, but overall a very good book

  2. 5 out of 5

    Liz Williams

    ”If you were but aware of it, and if you aren't careful, you could drown in grace. It's that plentiful. It's that free." I found this book deeply frustrating, because it was so close to being great and then fell short. It has some great nuggets, like the quote that begins this review, and its description of the stages of mysticism is accurate and succinct. Unfortunately, however, there are also some passages which are not only heretical from a traditional Christian point of view, but border on of ”If you were but aware of it, and if you aren't careful, you could drown in grace. It's that plentiful. It's that free." I found this book deeply frustrating, because it was so close to being great and then fell short. It has some great nuggets, like the quote that begins this review, and its description of the stages of mysticism is accurate and succinct. Unfortunately, however, there are also some passages which are not only heretical from a traditional Christian point of view, but border on offensive. Particularly notable are the passage in which he says the Blessed Mother shamed her family (her cousin Elizabeth seems to have received her happily enough) and the one in which he describes Jesus' baptism as "a horrible crisis of identity”. All in all, I can't recommend this work, despite its good points.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth Cook

    Way too much material to absorb in a single reading -several terms sent me the dictionary over and over. For a beginner's guide to Christian Mysticism it presents a almost an overabundance of stuff to remember to think about and to absorb. This was not what I thought I was picking up when I requested it -more a discussion of the mystics themselves -who they were etc. rather than pathways and practices. Although I found it confusing and frustrating at times there is a wealth of good direction etc Way too much material to absorb in a single reading -several terms sent me the dictionary over and over. For a beginner's guide to Christian Mysticism it presents a almost an overabundance of stuff to remember to think about and to absorb. This was not what I thought I was picking up when I requested it -more a discussion of the mystics themselves -who they were etc. rather than pathways and practices. Although I found it confusing and frustrating at times there is a wealth of good direction etc. I found the questions section in the back to be particularly helpful. Overall a good read but one I may have to return to really understand Three stars after all of that is said.

  4. 4 out of 5

    GilianB

    A nice entry read into Christian mysticism. I expected a bit more technical explanations, theology and the like, but besides that minor issue, you get a sense of the way mystics use language in a particular way; they tend to talk about God and their experiences in a certain fashion. I especially liked the perennial religious thoughts! Should look more into that.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Colton Flick

    A solid introductory text that, for better and for worse, radiates "cool youth pastor" energy. Vaguely misogynist at times despite a preface explaining that the author is a feminist. Good information, though, and it points you towards a lot of useful follow-up reading.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Phil

    This is a good introduction to the Christian mysticism which is a topic which can be a bit mystifying to many, even those who are somewhat acquainted with it. Mabry tries to address this confusion and, largely, succeeds with his accessible writing style and his talent for breaking things down (as a teacher, I recognize the skill). The result is that he manages to make the whole process much less mystifying and even doable. That is an advance, already, over most books on mysticism. I think the re This is a good introduction to the Christian mysticism which is a topic which can be a bit mystifying to many, even those who are somewhat acquainted with it. Mabry tries to address this confusion and, largely, succeeds with his accessible writing style and his talent for breaking things down (as a teacher, I recognize the skill). The result is that he manages to make the whole process much less mystifying and even doable. That is an advance, already, over most books on mysticism. I think the reason for his effectiveness is that he comes at it from spiritual direction, so he has already considered practical application, rather than theory. The result is an informative, but realistic introduction to how to fit mysticism into one's life. Mabry goes over the recognized stages of mysticism- Awakening, Purgation, Dark Night of the Soul, Dark Night of the Spirit, Illumination. He combines excellent explanations with examples, mostly from the Christian mystics. I particularly enjoyed the sections which outline the lives of various mystics (not that I didn't know them, but I'm a sucker for a bit of biography). He makes an interesting distinction between kataphatic and apophatic mystics- kataphatic mystics prefer to think in terms of images and relationship, while apophatic mystics tend to silence and imageless contemplation. I recognize that I tend to be more kataphatic than not. I totally concede the importance of an apophatic caution; that is, no image is going to really define God. I certain think that almost every theological discussion (especially the Trinity) should be prefaced by 'we don't really know how this works..." as a reminder that our images are not the box we can put God into, but I tend to find all out apophaticism difficult to fathom and more abstract than is good for me. That isn't to say it's invalid- only I just don't get it. A last caution. Mabry is fundamentally Christian, but has a tendency, common among mystics, to move easily between traditions and religions. I don't mind the bouncing around in the Christian traditions as I tend to, but I found the bouncing between Buddhism and Christianity a bit distracting. Other like that multi-faith approach, but I tend to want to stay in the Christian imagery. That isn't to say that mystics from other religions have nothing to say to Christian, but that they use a different language of mysticism and I don't always think we pay attention to the fact that different concepts can have very different meanings in different contexts. In the West, we have a tendency to accept a facile comparison between religions, so tend to want to spend my time plumbing the depths of my own faith tradition. That is just me. However, still an excellent book and well worth reading.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Just A. Bean

    Not quite what I expected. I thought this would be an academic history of mysticism and an outline of the major beliefs. This was more of a self-help books for aspiring mystics. Given that, I found it pretty useful. The prose was chatty and accessible, with a Q&A appendix for each chapter, clarifying many points I'd wondered about with in the chapters. I read it straight through, but I'd recommend reading by topic: the chapter, the Q&A, then the quotes by mystics. It's definitely a beginner's book Not quite what I expected. I thought this would be an academic history of mysticism and an outline of the major beliefs. This was more of a self-help books for aspiring mystics. Given that, I found it pretty useful. The prose was chatty and accessible, with a Q&A appendix for each chapter, clarifying many points I'd wondered about with in the chapters. I read it straight through, but I'd recommend reading by topic: the chapter, the Q&A, then the quotes by mystics. It's definitely a beginner's book, which is where I am on this topic, and it's orientated towards people who are or can be part of a Christian community. I found that last point a little frustraiting because I was looking for something an unchurched person can do (in that there is no church in my area). Still, I did find the book insightful, and will probably read it again.

  8. 4 out of 5

    lisa

    Growing into God provides an easily manageable overview of the study of Christian mysticism. I appreciated the range of writers included in the discussion, from ancient to 20th century, and that both Protestant and Catholic mystics were mentioned. Mabry includes a section with questions and answers. This gives a feeling of being in a lecture hall and having other students present to ask questions of the author and text. The books was not the best fit for me because I already have done a lot of re Growing into God provides an easily manageable overview of the study of Christian mysticism. I appreciated the range of writers included in the discussion, from ancient to 20th century, and that both Protestant and Catholic mystics were mentioned. Mabry includes a section with questions and answers. This gives a feeling of being in a lecture hall and having other students present to ask questions of the author and text. The books was not the best fit for me because I already have done a lot of reading in this area. I think I would prefer to read several books that go into more detail, rather than an introductory format. This is a personal preference. I received a copy of this book free through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Charles Wilson

    I'm actually still reading the appendices of this book,but I feel able to write a review. I've read a fair amount on and of mystics and mysticism, and this would be an excellent introduction to the subject for anyone who is looking for a place to start. The main part of the book itself is short,just 120 pages, but the appendices of questions and answers and mystics on mysticism make it about 300. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in mysticism. Good for beginners, but not just for th I'm actually still reading the appendices of this book,but I feel able to write a review. I've read a fair amount on and of mystics and mysticism, and this would be an excellent introduction to the subject for anyone who is looking for a place to start. The main part of the book itself is short,just 120 pages, but the appendices of questions and answers and mystics on mysticism make it about 300. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in mysticism. Good for beginners, but not just for them. Simple,direct and conversational.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amos Smith

    This is an all-time spiritual classic. It's brilliance cannot be underestimated! It is at the very top of my list when it comes to plumbing the depths of prayer. -Amos Smith (Author of Healing The Divide: Recovering Christianity's Mystic Roots)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Anette Hillegass

    Very intriguing and interesting book - this book definitely makes you think and analyze your own thoughts and opinions... would recommend it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Greywalker

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

  14. 4 out of 5

    Christine Sharp

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jen

  16. 4 out of 5

    Quest Books

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kate

  18. 5 out of 5

    Josh

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gary T.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Peter

  21. 5 out of 5

    Valiin

  22. 5 out of 5

    Steve Robbins

  23. 4 out of 5

    Frater

  24. 4 out of 5

    Samantha McGuire

  25. 5 out of 5

    Charles Eduardos

  26. 4 out of 5

    Richard Matcham

  27. 5 out of 5

    David Holdefer

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alissa

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Reads

  30. 5 out of 5

    Josepena

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